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2009 16 Months and Counting - Australias Racist Intervention Continues

2009 16 Months and Counting - Australias Racist Intervention Continues

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Published by John Schertow

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: John Schertow on Jun 14, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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16 Months and counting: Australia’s racist
intervention continues
By John Schertow
May 21, 2009Indigenous People in the NorthernTerritory of Australia have struggled for
the past 16 months to “roll back” the
Northern Territory Emergency Response(NTER) legislation, more commonly
known as the “intervention,” which the
 government introduced in 2007.None of the 73 communities it impactedwere consulted before NTER began; butmore to the point, it was introduced under a false pretence that we
forget any time soon.When it first went public, the government told us that NTER was aresult of the
Little Children Are Sacred 
report, which examined in depththe needs and challenges facing indigenous and non-indigenouschildren in Australia. The report also suggested there was wide-spreadabuse of indigenous children, and offered a set of 97 recommendationson how the health and well-being of all children in Australia could beimproved.
However, the reality of NTER soon set in: children
far from beingviewed as sacred
were being used as scapegoats for a plan thatshould have been met with wide-spread revulsion from thegovernment, instead of near-unanimous support.Emma Murphy, a co-editor for Green Left Weekly, spoke about the
reality at the “World at a Crossroadsconference last month in Sydney,
Australia.In her presentation, which can be read on the Socialist Voice website, Murphy describedthe key aggressions the NTER has brought forward:
Giving the federal government the power to seize land which wasgranted to Indigenous people in 1976, and convert freehold titleinto five-year leases.
Removal of Indigenous peoples’ right to control who enters their
land, a right that had been protected through a widely supportedpermit system.
Withholding 50% of the welfare payments due to Indigenouspeople in proscribed areas. The money is granted as storevouchers.
Widespread bans on consumption of alcohol and pornography.The legislation further suspended the Racial Discrimination Act(because the intervention was racist); empowered a (non-aggressive)military invasion; barred Community meetings unless an officialgovernment appointee was available; shut down several community-based services; allowed for surprise raids; and made health checksmandatory for all indigenous children, to ensure they were not beingabused.Child abuse, remember, was the whole point of the intervention.
Incidentally, 5 months after the legislation was enacted, word came in
that they weren’t coming across any signs of “rampant” abuse. In
they weren’t finding any signs whatsoever. About the only thing theydid find, according to one article, was “gingivitis.”As for the people themselves, Murphy recalls, “the themes of shame,
humiliation and dis-empowerment were constants among the people
we spoke to in the NT during our visit last year.”
 Anger and frustration are also quite common, as numerous communitymembers have shown at protests and gatherings, in various interviews,and videos published on websites like Youtube.The government has regularly ignored each and every one of theirconcerns or has otherwise brushed them off as misinformed gibberish.
The Great White Champion Government 
The Great White Champion Government of Australia knows what’s
best.For the record, this is just as true with Kevin Rudd, as when John
Howard was Prime Minister. In fact, despite Kevin Rudd’s gentle
-sounding voice and pleasant demeanour
, there’s scarcely a difference
between the two.The proof is in the policy, which Murphy also explored in herpresentation:In February 2008, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people travelled toCanberra from around Australia
particularly from proscribed areas inthe NT
to protest the Intervention and demand it be repealed. Butthat protest was overshadowed by the historical apology to the StolenGenerations, delivered by Rudd on the opening day of Parliament of the new government, February 13, 2008. It was a beautifully crafted

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